Interview with the Director of meeco India (Pvt) Ltd., Tarun Munjal
Thanks to its entrepreneurial spirit Tarun Munjal, Managing Director of meeco India (Pvt) Ltd., is a decisive part of the innovation department for new clean energy generation, storage and monitoring products. He was responsible for the development of one of the best-selling energy solutions of The meeco Group: the intelligent energy management system sun2safe. Equipped with a remote service and a monitoring tool the sun2safe is an all-in-one system consisting of top-tier batteries to store energy and a converter/inverter to convert the current suitable for all devices and applications. It is easily combinable with multiple energy sources. Through this flexible application and the independent selection of energy sources the sun2safe is perfectly suitable for various types of customers.
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Mr. Munjal, how was the idea of sun2safe born?
The idea for the first sun2safe version has arisen out of a specific customers need dating already back to the year 2006. The client required a large-sized photovoltaic system, which could flexibly interact with batteries, the grid and diesel generators. The target was to maximise the utilisation of clean solar energy but at the same time deliver the maximum possible flexibility by combining different energy generation and storage technologies.
Through our worldwide expansion we became familiar with different grid situations, which are dramatically different from country to country and also from site to site. We decided to develop an internationally applicable product that caters for different scenarios – off-grid, weak grid and high availability grid. The objective was to deliver a high and predictable return on investment regardless of the varying grid situations. In the last quarter of 2014, our entire team of highly experienced engineers from Germany, Italy and India got together in Gurgaon, India and set out a roadmap to achieve these objectives by revamping the original design and reviewing the product from each engineering and performance point of view. We selected a manufacturing partner with top-tier electronics manufacturing facilities and realised the most advanced vision of an intelligent power management system.
How did the sun2safe perform shortly after its launch?
The first customer was a remote school in northern India. Thanks to the sun2safe the school achieved an entire shift away from a diesel-based power supply towards photovoltaic solar energy. Right from day one the energy management installation represented a resounding success, leading to a fantastic review from the principal of the school. This was very encouraging for the whole of the team. We added a host of new features including the possibility of remote monitoring and remote interaction and thus improved the functionality of the sun2safe further.
Are there any special key markets for the distribution of the sun2safe?
Ever since we launched the sun2safe, the number of countries we are supplying with the product is steadily increasing. Currently, we are focussing, inter alia, on key markets in Africa, such as Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Malawi or South Africa. Since these countries have to tackle the challenges of load shedding and power cuts they need an independent system like the sun2safe as power and backup solution in order to ensure trouble-free power without interruptions. Together with the Zimbabwean leader of electrical industrial manufacturing and distribution, Powerspeed Electrical, we founded the joint venture Onesun Solar Ltd. to establish clean energy projects countrywide. The sun2safe, perfectly suitable for private households and other small to medium-sized facilities is being sold through Powerspeed’s sixteen outlets.
Furthermore, already many of the Caribbean countries, first and foremost Antigua and Barbuda, utilise and appreciate the benefits of sun2safe. In the Asian region the product is utilised extensively in India. Most recently, we received enquiries from Sri Lanka, Maldives, the Middle East and from some far away places such as Fiji. This shows the diversity of key markets, which we initially wanted to achieve.
What was the biggest challenge you had to face during the development of the sun2safe?
We faced several challenges during the development of this product. Most of them, of course, have been highly technical. The biggest challenge was to achieve the maximum flexibility without compromising on the performance and hardware quality. Later we had to deal with other challenges. The complexity of the product entails a significantly large supply chain. In 2015 floods affected Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in eastern India, where parts of our ancillary cards were manufactured. Despite the flooding in parts of our partner’s factory the local team ensured the delivery of some key components. We are fortunate to maintain such excellent relationships with our entire supply chain, as these are an integral part of the efforts and the success.
Are there any competitors selling a product similar to the sun2safe?
In terms of the all in one – plug and play approach of the sun2safe there are no competitors known to us. There are several competitors in the fields of energy storage and management, but all of them have very different approaches towards coupling their systems. The customer has to purchase and integrate several different components while the sun2safe uniquely presents everything in one box with an industry leading efficiency.
The meeco Group is expanding thanks to the development of many different renewable energy solutions: sun2live, sun2go, sun2flow… Any future projects?
We are in the final stages of a new release of our monitoring tool and platform sun2see. Our team has established a Global Network Operations Centre (G-NOC) for troubleshooting, monitoring and control of our clean energy installations worldwide. Thanks to the sun2see, customers benefit from an easy and comfortable insight into the production process and performance of their renewable energy systems. We are expecting to go live with this new creation in the first quarter of 2017.
|Learn more about our PV energy solutions for remote areas.Read the interview with Claudio Alberti, director of meeco Services Italia and energy storage expert.|